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UK launches Critical Imports Council to secure supplies of medicines, smartphone chips


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The Council aims to address the supply challenges businesses face and develop real-life solutions

The UK government has intensified efforts to safeguard supplies of vital goods such as medicines and smartphone chips by introducing a Critical Imports Council today (April 17).

Comprising of 23 industry leaders, the newly formed Council will advise on “securing resilience in supply chains for items critical to the UK’s economic prosperity, national security and essential services.”

The Association of British Healthtech Industries (ABHI), the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) are among the members of the Council.

According to the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), the council is an extension of the government’s Critical Imports and Supply Chains Strategy launched in January.

“It will allow business and government to work together in implementing the Strategy’s 18 actions – ensuring businesses have a central voice in shaping government’s work to build supply chain resilience,” DBT said.

Alan Mak, the minister for business and trade and chair of the Critical Imports Council, underscored the importance of strengthening supply chains to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of essential goods to consumers amidst challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Red Sea attacks and various other global crises.

“That’s why we’re now going even further to strengthen our critical goods supplies with the launch of this new Council, which will bring together government and industry experts to help protect businesses from supply chain shocks now and in the future,” he said.

Richard Torbett, CEO of ABPI, emphasised the crucial role of supporting and safeguarding the resilient supply of medicines and vaccines to the NHS for the wider health and wealth of UK citizens.

He said: “I look forward to working with others to maintain and further improve the UK’s robust and responsive medicines supply.”

Working with the government, the Council aims to address the supply challenges businesses face and develop real-life solutions.

They will meet quarterly, and collaborate on emerging supply chain risks and identify the support UK businesses need to reduce vulnerabilities in supply chains.

As per the Department for Business and Trade’s announcement, an online portal will be created for businesses to report instances of red tape or supply chain issues, facilitating prompt action to address these issues.

Members of the Critical Imports Council include:

  1. ADS Group
  2. Association of British Healthtech Industries
  3. Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry
  4. BAE Systems
  5. BASF
  6. British Chambers of Commerce
  7. British Generic Manufacturers Association
  8. BT
  9. Chemical Business Association
  10. Cranfield School of Management
  11. Critical Minerals Association
  12. Institute of Export and International Trade
  13. Tech UK
  14. Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining
  15. Johnson Matthey
  16. Logistics UK
  17. Make UK
  18. Maritime UK
  19. Renewable UK
  20. Rolls-Royce
  21. Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)
  22. UK Chambers of Shipping
  23. UK Trade Policy Observatory

A group of health charities and community pharmacists has recently warned that the ongoing drug shortage crisis in the UK will put more patients’ health at risk if the issues in the medicines supply chain are not promptly addressed.

They stressed the need for “openness and transparency” between the government and manufacturers to resolve medicine shortages.

Medicine shortages in the UK have doubled over the past two years, with BGMA figures indicating that there were 101 reported drug supply issues in February 2024 compared to 52 in February 2022.



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